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Child is identified as
possibly needing special
education and related
“Child Find.” The state must identify, locate, and evaluate all
children with disabilities in the state who need special educa-
tion and related services. To do so, states conduct “Child
Find” activities. A child may be identified by “Child Find,”
and parents may be asked if the “Child Find” system can
evaluate their child. Parents may also call the “Child Find”
system and ask that their child be evaluated. Or—
Referral or request for evaluation. A school professional may
ask that a child be evaluated to see if he or she has a disabil-
ity. Parents may also contact the child’s teacher or other
school professional to ask that their child be evaluated. This
request may be verbal or in writing. Parental consent is
needed before the child may be evaluated. Evaluation needs
to be completed within 60 days of the parent giving consent.
(If the state has an established timeframe for completing
evaluations, its timeframe is used instead.)
Child is evaluated.
The evaluation must assess the child in all areas related to the
child’s suspected disability. The evaluation results will be used
to decide the child’s eligibility for special education and
related services and to make decisions about an appropriate
educational program for the child. If the parents disagree with
the evaluation, they have the right to take their child for an
Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE). They can ask that
the school system pay for this IEE.
Eligibility is decided.
A group of qualified professionals and the parents look at the
child’s evaluation results. Together, they decide if the child is a
“child with a disability,” as defined by IDEA. Parents may ask
for a hearing to challenge the eligibility decision.
Child is found eligible
If the child is found to be a “child with a disability,” as
defined by IDEA, he or she is eligible for special education
and related services. Within 30 calendar days after a child is
determined eligible, the IEP team must meet to write an IEP
for the child.
Here’s a brief look at how a student is identified as having a disability and needing special education and
The Basic Special Education Process under IDEA 2004